How To Save Money On Your Heating Bills

How much do you think you spend on your heating bills at present? According to the Energy Saving Trust, on average half the money spent on utility bills in the UK goes towards heating and hot water.

Is it therefore any surprise that come the first sign of winter, many households have the same debate rumbling on, whether to put the heating on. But, did you know that by taking precautionary steps, you can reduce your energy bills at the same time as keeping your home warm. Five top tips we recommend are…

Make an Extra Layer Your First Choice:

Many of us opt to switch the heating on the moment that we feel a chill in the home. Automatically reaching for the heating will cause your energy bills to rocket. Instead, your first option should be to make an extra layer of clothing your first choice to keeping warm.

Have Your Boiler Serviced Annually:

As with all appliances within the home, general usage can take its toll on your boiler. This wear and tear will leave your boiler performing below its optimum level, hindering its efficiency and costing you more in energy bills.

To reduce the risk of wear and tear on your boiler, you should have it serviced annually. Ideally the service should take place before winter takes hold.

Along with getting your boiler serviced, it’s also recommended to install a CO2 alarm next to the boiler.

Bleed Your Radiators:

If you’ve put your heating on and found that the top of your radiator is cooler than the bottom, then you’ll need to bleed them. This isn’t a difficult task, nor is it time consuming. But it is one which should be carried out at the earliest opportunity to save you money on your energy bills.

To bleed your radiators, all you’ll need is a radiator key and a towel.

With your heating off, use the radiator key to turn the valve at the top of the radiator to release any trapped air. Whilst doing this, hold the towel just below the valve to catch any water which may trickle out. As soon as water appears, close the valve.

Set TRVs Low:

Many modern radiators come with TRVs, which enable you to set the temperature of the individual radiator. Whilst many of us will turn the TRV to six, this will cost you money without heating the room any quicker.

To help save money on your energy bills, set the TRV to its lowest setting, before gradually turning them up until you find a comfortable room temperature. It’s also recommend to keep the TRVs on a low setting in rooms which aren’t frequented often. This will help keep the room warm without wasting heat.

Utilise Natural Heat:

OK, so the sun isn’t as strong during the winter months, it can still provide the required warmth to naturally heat your home. To make the most out of the natural warmth from the sun, leave your curtains open during the day, and closed during the evening.

Along with closing your curtains during the evening, it’s also a good idea to keep internal doors closed where possible.

These five simple steps will help you to save money on your heating and energy bills, at the same time as keeping the house warm. But, for those who are looking for an additional heat source there are a number of portable radiators available which will provide the heating requirements you need.

Contemporary Kitchen Furniture – Points to Remember

When picking out contemporary kitchen furniture there are one or two things everyone should remember to avoid mistakes and an uneven finish to their new kitchen.

Firstly, do not assume you know exactly what contemporary means in relation to kitchen furniture. Do your homework and look at what's out there in terms of modern designs and ideas. You might be surprised at what constituents contemporary furniture and determined that it is not for you after all.

Always think about your kitchen when you're looking around showrooms. It's very easy to let a salesman tell you that particular furniture will look great in your contemporary kitchen, but if he has not seen your kitchen, how does he know? All kitchens are different in terms of light and space and will need different shapes and sizes of furniture to work effectively. Contemporary kitchen furniture is never one size fits all.

Sometimes the most important advice when it comes to picking out furniture for your kitchen is to remain consistent. If you go around picking out different bits and pieces without thinking about how they will go together, you can end up with a very disjointed and awkward looking kitchen.

Contemporary kitchen furniture needs to give off the impression of seamlessness and have clean lines in order to be authentic. This is not to say that your kitchen has a cold and sterile place to work in. You can add warmth and color to your kitchen by using the right materials and accessories.

These are just a few useful tips to help you ensure you get the contemporary kitchen that suits your needs.

How To Fix Sputtering Marketing

Is your marketing generating a steady stream of sales leads?

If not, ask yourself this question: Do you have a marketing plan?

You may know what your business goals and objectives are. And you probably have a website and some advertising. But without a game plan, your marketing activities are reduced to a few unconnected activities that are unquestionably to produce the results you want.

A marketing plan helps you tie all your marketing activities together and keeps you focused so that you can create a roadmap that will lead you to your objectives.

And a simple, one-page marketing plan will take you a lot further than no marketing plan at all.

So what should your plan be based on? You can start with these basics:

1. Identify Your Marketing Goals

What specifically does your marketing need to achieve for your business to thrive? How many new leads do you need each week? What percentage of those leads do you need to convert to sales? What is your revenue target?

2. Create A Marketing Strategy

Take a look at your goals. Now what is your overall approach and position in relation to your goals and competition. My marketing strategy uses an educational approach. By providing people with useful information and ideas, I get an opportunity to demonstrate the value I provide and establish my credibility.

3. Set Up Your Marketing System

Create an action plan. Tie all your marketing activities together into a system that reflects your marketing strategy. The idea is to have everything working together as one.

4. Creation And Implementation Of Your Marketing Activities

Now that you have identified what your marketing activities will be, it's time to take each marketing activity and figure out who will create and implement it and when.

5. Fine Tune Your Marketing Tools

Your marketing activities require the use of one or more marketing tools. These include your website, your marketing messages and things like article marketing. To get your prospect's attention, you need to ensure your marketing tools are really ready to cut through all the marketing noise.

Creating a written plan may seem intimidating but as you can see, you should be able to hammer out the basics in a few hours.

Introduction to Teaching English in Japan

Would you like the chance to spend some time in Japan but feel turned off by whistle-stop package tourist trips? If so, teaching English may be the answer. There is no better way to get to know a country than by living and working there. By teaching English you become a part of Japanese society, rather than just an observer looking in.

Teaching English is big business in Japan. Despite the collapse of the so-called bubble economy Japan remains one of the richest and most sophisticated nations on the planet, and this status is largely due to its success in overseas trade and investment. Thus, to get ahead in Japanese society, proficiency in English is a significant advantage. Add to that the fact that being able to speak English is simply considered cool and the huge demand for English teachers becomes clear.

Don’t Japanese people learn English at school?

Yes they do. Usually for 6 years or more. The problem is that, unlike most of the school curriculum, English isn’t taught particularly well. Japanese schools tend to follow traditional teaching methods in which the teacher stands at the front and lectures the class. Students are expected to absorb rather than question. The method produces excellent results for subjects like history and mathematics, but not for communicative, participative skills like language. School English education is likely to consist of lots of reading and writing, lots of grammar practice, but very little – if any – spoken communication.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

Not at all. Of course, if you can pick up a little nihongo (Japanese) it will make your daily life easier, but it won’t help one bit as a teacher. The reason is that the most effective way of teaching language is to use only the target language. Thus the only language used in English lessons is English.

How do I start?

Well, you could simply buy a ticket to Japan and start looking for work. Unfortunately, without a work permit, that strategy is illegal. Unless you have a Japanese spouse you need to find a job that will sponsor you for a visa. It is possible to travel to Japan as a tourist and approach a few of the numerous schools advertising for teachers asking if they are prepared to sponsor your visa application.

It helps to undergo some TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training before looking for work. Not only will this give you some basic teaching skills and confidence, but it also shows potential employers you are serious about teaching and not just a backpacker looking for some financial re-fuelling.

TEFL courses are advertised in most English speaking countries. The more useful ones are provided by working English schools and offer face-to-face teaching practice with real learners.

Accommodation

If you are employed by the JET program or one of the big English school companies they will more than likely arrange accommodation for you. You are of course free to find your own housing if you so wish.

Living in school-found accommodation has the advantage of an English speaking contact to sort out repairs or other problems. The disadvantage is that it’s difficult to quit a job that may not be for you while living in their accommodation. I have also heard of at least one school that charges its teachers a significant premium over market rental rates for use of its accommodation – so beware!

There are several English speaking accommodation agencies advertising in the free English language press, and these generally provide decent accommodation, but at a price.

An alternative favored by many single English teachers are the so-called “gaijin houses” (literally foreigner’s house). These are basically hostels that rent out basic, but adequately comfortable, rooms mainly to non-Japanese clientele. Usually bathroom, kitchen and sometimes communal sitting room are shared. Gaijin house advertisements are to be found in the free English language press.